Rev. Fr. John Mc Greal
P. P. Mayo Abbey
This Westport priest served at Mayo Abbey Parish for a decade plus on the Aran Islands.
Fr. John Mc Greal’s ancestors arrived in Westport from Ulster as Linen workers during the 1700’s. The stone tablet on gable wall of small chapel across from Aughavale Cemetery says ‘In loving memory of Patrick McGreal Newforest Carnalurgan Husband of Anne, Father of Dr. Patrick, John, Catherine, Domnick and Michael. He died in 1799 age 47 years.’ Patrick was the Patriarch of the Mc Greal Family. Patrick’s son John was herd’s man for Lord Sligo of Westport Demesne.
Fr. John’s grandparents were John Mc Greal and Mary nee Horan, his father was Domnick and Mother Mary nee Sheridan. His siblings were Patrick of Carnalurgan, Bridget (Lavelle), also Katie & Barbara of the Octogan & Margaret (Keating) who lived on Altamount St. John’s sister Bridget was in fact our paternal Great Grandmother. Fr. John was a cousin of the Mc Greal family of Carrabawn plus the Beckett families of Davitt’s Terrace, Westport. On the night of the 1901 Census our Grandmother, Catherine Beckett neé Lavelle then a young woman was recorded as a visitor to her uncle’s home at Mayo Abbey. [i]
Newspaper reports portray that Fr. Mc Greal was immensely active with civic duties including the Mayo Abbey Cycling & Athletic Sports club of 5th October 1901 who listed him as Patron. [ii] Fr. Mc Greal was mentioned in a report on a fundraising Concert held in aid of an Organ for Mayo Abbey Church. [iii] He is listed as a Manager of Mayo Abbey school (pages 41 & 45). In an article by Edward Brennan Fr. McGreal is mentioned on page 60. Mayo Abbey Co – Op has a list of Shareholders listed among them Fr. Mc Greal with three shares at 2 /6 each on March 8th 1898. (106) [iv]
Fr. John Mc Greal’s demise took place at his parochial residence on September 8th 1906. He was interred alongside his uncle Fr. Patrick Sheridan within Mayo Abbey Church [v]
Will of Fr John McGreal PP, Roslee and Mayo Abbey died 1906
In the Name of God, Amen
I John McGreal, Roman Catholic Curate of Kiltullagh hereby devise and bequeath all my sacred vestments and altar linens to the Chapel of Cloonfad in the above named parish, except my Chalice, PAteur and Satin Vestments (with suit) with alb amict, and Altar Cloths and Missal that are in a box. With regard to any other goods and chattels I leave them to my executrix for my burial expenses, and hereby name as my executrix, Barbara McGreal of Westport.
This is my last will and testament.
John McGreal, C.C.
Thos Hosty and Patrick Molloy C.C. Witnesses [vi]
The obituary for Fr. John Mc Greal stated that ‘His memory is still held in esteem for his kindly, gentle disposition and his unostentatious piety and zeal in his discharge of his priestly duties.’ [vii] His Month’s Mind Mass was attended by a large congregation of his parishioners as they paid their last tribute to one, they revered also loved. [viii]
My sister Roisin and I were privileged to attend the Centenary Mass in Mayo Abbey church in honour of Fr. John on 9th March 1988. We brought gifts to the altar during the service.
Information from Family archives plus photos from Dympna Joyce
[i] Information from Family archives
[ii] Western People 21 – 09 – 1901, page 4
[iii] The Connaught Telegraph 13 – 02 – 1904 page 5
[iv]Mayo Abbey National School Centenary 1896 – 1996
[v] Information from Family archives
[vii] The Connaught Telegraph 15 – 09 – 1906, page 4
[viii] Western People 13 – 10 – 1906 page 5